Well, this one just lends itself to mediocre gage. Taking the helm, helming the ship, at the helm of the container vessel. You get the gist.

Jokes aside, though, the news of the day is that the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) or, more accurately its technical oversight committee, has voted to accept the Helm project as its latest incubation-level project.

The CNCF is, of course, the home of the Kubernetes project and has, over the past few months, been adding new projects at a rapid clip – all with the intention of delivering all of the different requirements for cloud-native operation under the umbrellas of the open source foundation.

Helm is the latest in a long string of projects that add value to the CNCF community, in its case, the value is by virtue of the fact that the project is a package manager that aims to provide an easy way to find, share, and use software built for Kubernetes. Helm, therefore, removes complexity from configuration and deployment, and enables greater developer productivity – all stuff that the CNCF should be (and is) focused upon.

It is worth bearing in mind the real momentum that the CNCF and Kubernetes have enjoyed since their inception. As Joe Beda, who started Kubernetes alongside Google Compute Engine, Google Container Engin, and Heptio) points out:

This month Kubernetes has been public for 4 years. This journey has been amazing! As a community we’ve come so far. It is great to see Helm, which was started before the CNCF, branch out of Kubernetes and signal a critical expansion of the Kubernetes ecosystem

And Helm seems to be a project that has seen some great organic pickup from the community, according to a recent Kubernetes Application Survey, 64 percent of the application developers, application operators, and ecosystem tool developers who answered the survey reported using Helm to manage apps on Kubernetes.

The project itself (and prepare for a convoluted history here) was started by Google and Deis (which is itself now part of Microsoft) in 2015 and later evolved into Kubernetes Helm, the merged result of Helm Classic and the Kubernetes deployment manager. The project has, over that time, attracted more than 300 contributors, and more than 800 contributors to the community charts, a successful conference based solely on Helm, and a unique culture in comparison to core Kubernetes. Matt Butcher, who is co-creator of Helm and now a Principal Engineer at Microsoft has this to say about the history and the union with CNCF:

In building Helm, we set out to build a tool to serve as an onramp to Kubernetes – one that seasoned developers would not only use, but also contribute back to. By joining CNCF, we’ll benefit from the input and participation of the community and, conversely, Kubernetes will benefit when a community of developers provides a vast repository of ready-made charts for running workloads on Kubernetes.

Conceptually, Helm is similar to OS-level package managers like Apt, Yum, and Homebrew in that it handles putting things in the right place for the running application – bringing all of the advantages of an OS package manager to a Kubernetes container platform. Helm’s packaging format, called charts, is a collection of files that describe a related set of Kubernetes resources. Charts are created as files laid out in a particular directory tree, which can then be packaged into versioned archives to be deployed.

In terms of the broadening of the CNCF franchise, Helm sits alongside Incubated technologies like Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, containerd, rkt, CNI, Envoy, Jaeger, Notary, TUF, Vitess, and NATS – Helm is part of a neutral foundation aligned with its technical interests, as well as the larger Linux Foundation, which provide the project with governance, marketing support and community outreach.

Sounds like a ship worth sailing!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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